Sustainable Row Crop Irrigation Management in Louisiana

2015 Annual Report for ES14-122

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $69,167.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2018
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Stacia Davis
LSU AgCenter

Sustainable Row Crop Irrigation Management in Louisiana


Proper irrigation is a best management practice that will enhance productivity or increase yields and will help insure the benefits from all other inputs are fully realized.  In addition to increased yields, irrigation can stabilize yield and quality from year to year.  The continued productivity of irrigated agriculture will be critical in Louisiana as the demand for food and fiber continues to grow.  The most common method of irrigating row crops in Louisiana is by furrow using disposable lay-flat tubing.  Though furrow irrigation is not very efficient on its own, this method is used by producers because it is considered economical considering the costs of water and infrastructure costs for alternative irrigation systems.  It has been demonstrated in the Delta region that combining furrow irrigation with technological advances, such as computerized hole size selection, irrigation timing using a soil water balance, and sensors for real-time feedback of plant and soil moisture conditions can produce significant water savings.  The training program was envisioned to provide the trainers and individual limited resource farmers (LRFs) with the tools that are critical for strengthening water resource management in row crop production, which further empowers LRFs to achieve social change.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The primary behavior-based objective is for the participants of this program to incorporate sustainable agricultural practices into integrated irrigation management strategies by implementing the principles and techniques identified below into their education and extension programs.

  • Introduction to sustainable production methods

Participants learn to identify the critical plant growth stages related to irrigation.  Topics covered under this objective include irrigation initiation, irrigation termination, residue management and cover crops, soil health, soil-water-plant relationships, and irrigation scheduling.

  • Introduction to water conservation technologies

Participants learn about irrigation design, irrigation efficiency, and water conservation technologies available for improving efficiency. 

  • Introduction to crop-water management practices

Participants learn about assessing water quality, developing nutrient prescriptions, and tail water recovery systems

  • Maximizing economic efficiency

Participants learn about investment costs, pumping costs, and relative economic profitability of any changes in irrigation methods and/or irrigation amounts.  An economic calculator, developed as part of the grant, is provided with education on use and applicability.

  • Trainees conducting trainings

Trainees will be able to use the materials provided to conduct their own training programs through extension.


The first four objectives were addressed in detail through the development of educational materials occurring during the summer/fall of 2015 that were presented in person at three separate 1.5 day irrigation workshops held during the winter of 2015/2016 (Table 1).  These three workshops were branded as regional irrigation conferences and all potential clientele were invited for participation, including LSU AgCenter extension agents, Southern University extension agents, NRCS field personnel, agricultural irrigation consultants, LRFs, and farmers.  Advertisement of the events was accomplished using LSU AgCenter press releases, LSU AgCenter website, social media, and various agriculture-related email lists.  Certified crop consultants were able to receive continuing education credits within the soil and water area by attending the workshops.  

Table 1. Three regional irrigation conferences were conducted across the regions of Louisiana that have significant irrigated row crop production.




Northwest Regional Irrigation Conference

Bossier City, LA

December 8-9, 2015

Northeast Regional Irrigation Conference

Winnsboro, LA

January 21-22, 2016

Central Regional Irrigation Conference

Marksville, LA

February 16-17, 2016

There were 122 attendees across all three workshops with an even distribution of about 40 people per location.  This even distribution indicates that the advertisement of the workshops was adequate for reaching a wide variety of interested trainers across Louisiana.  Individuals from South Louisiana, traditionally an un-irrigated part of the state, were in attendance at both the December and February workshops with goals of learning how to irrigate sustainably for when they enact irrigation practices on their farms.  Each participant was asked to fill out an evaluation survey that provided feedback on the educational content and materials as well as allowed an outlet for participants to indicate additional content that should be provided in the future.

In addition to the workshops, the grant team participated in the Morehouse Parish Field Day conducted by Southern University on July 24, 2015.  This specific field day was directed toward LRFs of all ages and abilities in a large row crop area of the state.  The team presented for approximately 30 minutes on irrigation efficiency, available technologies, and economics that drive efficiency and technology decisions.  

The economic calculator development was negotiated with the LSU AgCenter Information Technology department as a one-year plan to receive the product.  The app should be available for educational training at the next three workshops to be held in winter 2016-2017.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Feedback gained from the three training workshops have influenced the information included in the final educational materials. Approximately half the participants were previously unaware of the concepts presented about irrigation, but now understand the concepts (Fig. 1).  Nine percent of the participants felt that the material did not adequately provide the concepts clearly. The project team intend to review all materials to identify and minimize any technical language used in the presentations.

Slide1 Figure 1. The pie chart depicts the knowledge of the concepts covered in workshops (n=36).

 Survey questions were geared toward understanding the current practices being conducted on farms. Understanding the current practices will enable us to continue developing in-depth material covering effective utilization of the concepts/tools provided. Approximately 30 percent of the respondents indicated that they are familiar with these practices and plan to continue using them in the future (Fig. 2). Similarly, 43 percent indicated their intention to adopt the practices in the coming year. Very few respondents indicated that they will not use the practices covered in the training.

Slide2 Figure 2. Distribution of knowledge across various topics covered during the training.

The workshops were very productive, providing opportunity for interaction with clientele and exchange of thoughts and experiences among farmers. Overall, extremely positive feedback was received (Fig. 3). Continuing in 2016, the educational materials will be refined based on feedback and recorded for web-based learning opportunities.  New material will be created using alternative media, such as videos and extension documents, so that information can be distributed easily.   Once all new materials are developed into a finalized form, they will be uploaded to the LSU AgCenter website and their availability will be publicized. 

Slide3 Figure 3. Level of agreement with content of presentations and workshops (n=36).

Planning for the final three workshops will occur over the summer/fall of 2016.  Currently, the plan is to review materials from the first workshops, demonstrate the new extension materials that were developed since the events, and create an open dialog with the trainers.  Extension agents and other trainers that have followed through with conducting their own trainings will be highlighted and given the opportunity to provide their own experiences and feedback.  Also during this time period, the grant team will participate in the Morehouse Parish Field Day in 2016 to continue reaching out to LRFs.


Bruce Garner
County ANR Agent
LSU AgCenter
195A Community Rd
Oak Grove, LA 71263
Office Phone: 3184283571
Chris Coreil
3734 Government St
Alexandria, LA 71302
Office Phone: 3184737805
Dr. Changyoon Jeong
Assistant Professor
LSU AgCenter
262 Research Station Dr
Bossier City, LA 71112
Office Phone: 3187417430
Biff Handy
Agricultural Engineer
9604 Marlatt Street
Bastrop, LA 71220
Office Phone: 3182837626
Dr. Syam Dodla
Assistant Professor
LSU AgCenter
262 Research Station Dr
Bossier City, LA 71112
Office Phone: 3187417430
Dr. Naveen Adusumilli
Assistant Professor
LSU AgCenter
262 Research Station Dr
Bossier City, LA 71112
Office Phone: 3187417430
Odis Hill
County ANR Agent
Southern University
9609 Marlatt Street
Bastrop, LA 71220
Office Phone: 3182815741
Dr. Dan Fromme
Associate Professor
LSU AgCenter
8105 Tom Bowman Drive
Alexandria, LA 71302
Office Phone: 3184736520
Steve Nipper
Water Quality Specialist
2410 Old Sterlington Road, Suite D
Monroe, LA 71203
Office Phone: 3183434467